Tourism Minister Charles “Max” Fernandez has credited the government’s development policies for the St. John’s Harbour for the successes now being experienced this cruise tourism season.
Minister Fernandez made the point as he welcomed the inaugural visit of the Norwegian Getaway at the Heritage Quay pier on Saturday.
He said the decision to allow Global Ports Holdings Ltd. (GPH) to manage the cruise ports is now paying dividends to the country.
Fernandez said the growing popularity of Antigua and Barbuda as a preferred destination among cruise tourists provides ample evidence that the government’s decision was correct.
“This is a sign that we are doing something right because we were the first to sign with GPH.
“Since we have signed, the Bahamas, which gets over a million cruise passengers per year, has also signed. So too has St. Lucia, and (GPH) are now finalising to sign with the San Juan Port in Puerto Rico and they are also in discussion with a few more islands,” Fernandez revealed.
The tourism minister took the position that Antigua and Barbuda “must be doing something right” if the other Caribbean territories are finding value in partnering with GPH.
Minister Fernandez also pointed out some of the benefits of the arrangement with GPH.
“One is the kind of capacity that none of us could single handedly do. In addition, the kind of expertise they bring is unmatched as GPH is [one of] the largest operators of cruise ports in the world as they manage most of the ports in the Mediterranean.
“They have a tremendous amount of experience, as well as direct links with the cruise lines, so that’s a very good partner to have,” he said.
Minister Fernandez explained that GPH’s capacity also brings additional economic benefits.
He explained that if Antigua and Barbuda welcomes one million cruise passengers each year, this would mean that the Environment Division would collect US$1 in revenue per passenger while the St. John’s Development Corporation would generate US$1.50 in head tax.
These projections are expected to increase in coming years.
GPH has also played a significant role in the development of the Fifth Pier and was key in clearing the US$20 million loan for the construction of the Redcliffe Street Pier.